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In the Spotlight

Published: August 14, 2009 (Issue # 1500)


On Sunday, Channel One launched its own version of the British comedy show The Kumars at 42. The original show has jokes about an Indian family, while the Russian version chose Armenians as its local amusing ethnic group. And the Armenians arent very happy.

The concept of the British show is that a would-be television star cant get a job, so he decides to film his own chat show at home. Real famous people step through his front door and are accosted by his embarrassing relatives, who are actors performing scripted and improvised jokes.

The show on Channel One is called Rubik Almighty. The ad for the show explains that Rubik is a wealthy Armenian who likes to buy and sell everything and has decided to pay for his own show on Channel One.

Amazingly, television critic Irina Petrovskaya told Ekho Moskvy that she initially thought that this was for real.

Rubik lives in a huge, tastelessly decorated house with his blonde Russian girlfriend, his middle-aged sister, his sex-mad grandfather and his geeky teenage nephew Gamlet, or Hamlet, a popular boys name in Armenia.

The Union of Armenians in Russia on Wednesday published a letter of protest to the director of Channel One, calling the Armenian family caricatured.

The show was announced as a comedy, but what we saw provoked not laughter but a natural storm of indignation among Armenian youth in Russia, the letter said.

Armenians are traditionally viewed as the funniest people in the Soviet bloc, along with Jewish people. While the idea that an Indian chat show host cant get his own show in Britain has a satirical edge, its hard to argue that theres any discrimination against Armenians on Russian television as long as theyre being funny.

Garik Martirosyan appears on current-affairs comedy show ProjectorParisHilton; Mikhail Galustyan is the co-star of the sketch show Nasha Russia; Tigran Keosayan hosts a late-night discussion show; Yevgeny Petrosyan is the long-running star of Crooked Mirror, an old-fashioned variety show; and the Comedy Club stand-up show is owned by Armenians.

The star of Rubik Almighty, Ruben Dzhaginyan, is well-known in Armenia as a former member of its KVN student comedy team and the head of a big ad agency.

The pilot show was flashy but not very funny. The guests were Dmitry Dibrov, a Channel One host whose grin occasionally slipped off his frozen face, and Anna Semenovich, a figure skater turned pop singer. She looked frightened as the jokes focused on her ample bosom.

The best jokes were about Dibrovs frequent trips to the registry office ?he recently married two girls, aged 23 and 19 and a question to vocally challenged sexpot Semenovich: Is it true that the only way to get into show business is via ice skates?

Part of the problem is that Russian television doesnt really have the celebrity chat show format that The Kumars at 42 was parodying. Reactions to the show were baffled. What on earth was it? wrote Chocolita on LiveJournal.

Armenians complained that the show was offensive to their nation.

I consider Rubik Almighty a personal insult, wrote Slishkomtiho, an Armenian blogger. Either take [Dzhaginyan] off the air or force him to speak without an accent, Juber wrote on the Channel One forum.

Rubik spoke with an exaggerated accent, which was presumably fake. All the Armenian stars on television speak Russian without any accent.

Whats more, Rubik is a collection of all the stereotypes about Armenians: He flashes the cash, likes blondes, keeps things in the family, never stops doing business and is irritatingly successful.

Although if I could pick my national stereotypes, I wouldnt mind those ones.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, July 24


Liliana Modiliani, a well-known Russian stylist, will talk about choosing clothes that fit during her lecture at 7 p.m. at the Pryamoy Efir art club, 13 Viborgskoe Shosse.



Friday, July 25


Discuss Russias economic and political prospects for 2014 during a Business Breakfast organized by SPIBA at 9.30 a.m. in the Bank Saint-Petersburg office at 64


Malookhtinsky Prospekt.


Start your weekend with adorable miniature pigs at the Squealing Pig festival at 7 p.m. this evening in the Karl & Friedrich restaurant, 15 Iozhnaya doroga, on Krestovsky Island.



Saturday, July 26


Hundreds of brand-new and retro cars, drag and drift shows, test drives and karting are planned for the Avtobum-2014 festival, which will take place in front of the RIO shopping center at 2 Fuchika Ulitsa.


Participants in todays SaniDay Summer competition will impress visitors with their hand-made, unusual and hilarious boats, which will race at the Igora Resort near the 54th kilometer on Priozerskoe Shosse.


Metro Family Day will include both serious lectures for adults and master-classes for children, making the event interesting for the whole family. To participate, come to Kirov Park on Yelagin Island.


Photography will be the focus of todays Photosubbota, which features lectures by famous photographers, meetings with photo schools and studio representatives, and participation in a photography competition. The event starts at noon at Petrokongress, 5 Lodeynopolskaya Ulitsa.


If you like cycling, make sure to visit the Za Velogorod Festival with its retro bike exhibition, market and live music. The second round of the Leningrad Criterium race will also take place during the event at Petrovsky Arsenal in Sestroretsk.



Sunday, July 27


Navy Day will be celebrated with a weapon and military transportation exhibition, self-defense master classes and concerts. The event starts at 1 p.m. in the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburg.



Monday, July 28


Dont miss a chance to see the latest achievements in robotics during the RoboDom interactive show, exhibiting more than 150 robots. The show will be at BUM center, 22/2 Gzhatskaya Ulitsa, until Aug. 3. The entrance ticket costs 350 rubles ($10).



Tuesday, July 29


A video of a Queen concert from 1986 will be shown today at 8 p.m. in Yaschik, 50/13 Ligovsky Prospekt.



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